Monday, May 3, 2010

Chinese Pagodas

Chinese pagodas are towers with a number of floors, each with its own roof. Pagodas serve as Buddhist shrines.

Pagodas often have eight sides and up to 12 floors. They may be made of wood, brick or stone. Each story has a roof of colored, glazed tiles. This curves up at the eaves.

Pagodas are a mixture of Chinese and Indian building styles. The shape of pagodas came from old Chinese watch-towers, which were also built up in stages. But the idea of towers as shrines came from Indian towers and domes called stupas. Like stupas, many Chinese pagodas are crowned by what looks like several umbrellas, one above the other. This was a sign that a building had been raised in honour of a royal person.

As long ago as AD 516, the Chinese built a wooden pagoda about 328 feet tall. Most early wooden towers fell down long ago. Some survive in Japan, where this building style was copied.

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